Country singer Garth Brooks caused some controversy last week by saying he’d serve Bud Light at his new bar, Friends in Low Places, in Nashville, Tennessee.
“We’re going to serve every brand of beer. We are,” the star said at a live Q&A event with Billboard on June 7. “It’s not our decision to make.”
Brooks told the audience that he wants to encourage inclusive behavior at his bar and that those who do not wish to comply can take their business elsewhere.
“Our thing is this: If you come into this house, love one another,” the Country Music Hall of Fame inductee said. Otherwise, he added, “there are plenty of other places on Lower Broadway to go.”
Bud Light, a top-selling brand of beer in the U.S., has recently comeafter partnering with transgender TikTok star Dylan Mulvaney, a trans rights activist and actress, causing conservative backlash. Singers like Kid Rock and Travis Tritt called for a boycott of the beer.
Anheuser-Busch InBev (ABI), Bud Light’s parent company, tried to distance itself from the Mulvaney ad campaign, in turn provoking backlash from the LGBTQ+ community, with some establishments pulling the company’s products from their menus.
ABI sold $297 million worth of Bud Light in the four weeks ending on May 28 — a 23% decline from the same period last year, according to consumer behavior data analytics firm Circana.
After a flood of negative online reactions to Brooks’ Q&A, including a tweet from Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida, the singer addressed calls to boycott himself and his bar in his weekly Facebook livestream, “Inside Studio G,” on Monday.
“Diversity. Inclusiveness. That’s me. It’s always been me,” the singer said. “I think diversity is the answer to the problems that are here and the answer to the problems that are coming. So I love diversity.”
“I understand that might not be other people’s opinions, but that’s okay,” Brooks added. “They have their opinions, they have their beliefs. I have mine.”
Brooks went on to explain his business model, saying the types of beers he sells will depend on how well they sell.
“Are we going to have the most popular beers in the thing? Yes. It’s not our call if we don’t or not. It’s the patrons’ call,” the singer said. “If they don’t want it, then I gotta go to the distributor saying, ‘Man, your stuff is not selling.'”
The singer-songwriter reminded viewers of the type of behavior he expects in his bar.
“If you want to come in Friends in Low Places, come in, but come with love. Come in with tolerance, patience. Come in with an open mind, and it’s cool,” he said. “And if you’re one of those people that just can’t do that, I get it. If you ever are one of those people that want to try, come.”